JOHANNESBURG – Lungi Ngidi could be sidelined for up to three months with a knee injury he picked up while fielding during the one-off T20 match between South Africa and Australia last Saturday.
Cricket SA are set to confirm today that Ngidi will miss the entire Mzansi Super League and possibly all the Tests, ODIs and T20 matches against touring Pakistan.
Ngidi jammed his knee into the turf at a damp Carrara Oval in the fourth over of the T20 while fielding a ball on the boundary. The 22-year-old fast bowler left the field shortly thereafter but did return to bowl the final over of the match which had been reduced by rain to 10 overs a side.
Ngidi underwent two sets of scans this week to ascertain the damage and what proper course of rehabilitation will follow. It will be a bitter blow, not just for Ngidi but the Proteas and his MSL franchise, the Tshwane Spartans. He was the Spartans’ marquee player and following his heroics in the Indian Premier League for the Chennai Super Kings, he was set to be one of the faces of CSA’s new competition.
More importantly, however, will be Ngidi’s fitness ahead of the World Cup. In the last 12 months he’s become a crucial part of the Proteas' limited overs game plan following some outstanding performances in Sri Lanka and recently in Australia.
Proteas captain Faf du Plessis and coach Ottis Gibson believe a four-prong attack, comprising three quicks in Ngidi, Dale Steyn and Kagiso Rabada and the attacking leg-spin of Imran Tahir, holds the key to South Africa’s success in England.
It’s thus understandable that Cricket SA will take every precaution to ensure Ngidi is fit for that event.
For the Test format it won’t be as significant for the Proteas as Ngidi hasn’t yet cemented his spot in the five-day format. Last season he made his debut in the second Test against India as a replacement for Steyn, picking up the Man of the Match award for his seven wickets at his home ground.
He played just two of the remaining five Tests of the season before earning a fourth cap on a dust bowl in the second Test against Sri Lanka in July. Many have argued he should not have played there and that South Africa should instead have played a second frontline spinner.
The Proteas have a busy schedule this season that includes that full programme against Pakistan followed by two Tests, five ODIs and three T20s against Sri Lanka in February and March next year.@shockerhess